Monthly Archives: January 2020

What Does It Take To Change Your Marriage…and the World?

Feeling Exhausted

A lot of stuff has been happening around me lately that has charged my environment with an intensity it didn’t have a year ago this time. The details of events don’t matter—well, they matter to me, but not for this post. Suffice it to say: I’m exhausted by outrage culture.

Now righteous outrage can be a good thing. Societies have made real progress when good people become angry enough about an injustice to work for important change.

However, in our technology dominated world, we don’t work together so much as rage together. That is, we tend to equate saying something online with doing something. We get angry, spout our views, and congratulate ourselves for being involved or activist.

Being Part of the Club

Let’s say you get on Twitter and say something passionate and/or controversial. You might get flak, but I guarantee you someone, somewhere will applaud you for your courage. Perhaps several someones.

You may even be 100% right, and the question I still have is: How did you make a difference? Did you convince the people who didn’t agree with you before? Or just rally an audience to similarly express their outrage?

We see this with marriage websites too.

  • Wanna believe feminism is to blame for you not getting sex in your marriage?
  • Wanna believe all men are pigs who’ll objectify and harass anything in a skirt?
  • Wanna believe a man’s lusting is the fault of how women dress?
  • Wanna believe that this teaching, or that teaching, or this one is the reason why Christian marriages are struggling?

We tend to seek out exactly those resources that tell us what we already believe or want to believe. You can find a website that will cater to your outrage and make you feel part of the club.

What we often need, however, is something that challenges us to reconsider our beliefs. We might well come right back to a tried-and-true perspective, but even then at least we better understand the other side. As a result, we can better speak with people who disagree with us and perhaps persuade them to our side.

There is a limit to this, of course! We should not open ourselves to toxic theology or sinful practices. I’m talking about challenging ourselves to get outside our comfort zone, not into the danger zone.

Making the Long-Term Effort

Plenty of spouses express outrage about how their marriage is going or their lack of sexual intimacy. But outrage is easy. Long-term effort to effect real change is hard.

Outrage is easy. Long-term effort to effect real change is hard. #marriage @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Outrage often demands burning down what exists to build something new in its stead — and sometimes that is only option. You don’t negotiate with Hitler; you topple his regime. But most of the time we’re not fighting that kind of evil, and let’s hope you don’t want to topple your whole marriage!

In many most situations, changes comes through incrementalism. Though we’d all like to have the magic bullet, it’s reasonable goals, compromise, and persistence that make the difference. Over time, baby steps turn into big strides.

Thus, you may need to put forth a lot of time and effort:

  • to help your spouse feel safe enough to open up to you about their struggles
  • to address the sexual baggage you each entered marriage with
  • to resolve the obstacles you face
  • to introduce better sexual perspectives and activities
  • to demonstrate consistent and committed love

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

Becoming the Solution

Of course, putting a lot of effort into the wrong things will not yield the results you want. Which is why we should dig deep into Scripture, pray for wisdom and guidance, and check in with our spouse about what they long for in your marriage.

But we’ve got to stop telling ourselves that we’ve done something just because we talked about it. Declaring what you think to the world, to your Facebook friends, to a blog’s comment thread, even to your spouse or to your therapist isn’t enough. In fact, sometimes you’d be better off to shut up and just do something.

It’s an unpopular opinion in the marriage ministry world, but I don’t believe communication solves everything. Or even most things. Love in action solves things.

It's an unpopular opinion in the #marriage ministry world, but I don't believe communication solves everything. Or even most things. Love in action solves things. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Communicating with your spouse helps you know what love in action looks like for them! But it’s not enough. Your actions have to speak louder than your words.

Perhaps this is why all of my books suggest actions to put into practice what you learn. Even my conversation guide for couples, Pillow Talk, addresses what you can do and specific sexual activities you can try.

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Changing the World

These lessons go beyond our own marriage. Think also about your broader life:

  • Are you opposed to a marriage course your church has taught? Research alternatives, suggest a better one, and even offer to teach it or recruit facilitators.
  • Are you heartbroken by the breadth and depth of abuse and mistreatment? Volunteer your time or donate to organizations that help victims.
  • Are you appalled by the level of divorce in our society? Encourage your church to add premarital and marriage counseling to its resources, perhaps in concert with area churches. Recommend marriage classes and/or mentor other couples.
  • Are you unhappy about the messages your church teaches about sex, or their lack of teaching on it? Suggest a marriage event and invite a speaker who can address the issue well (e.g., Juli Slattery or yours truly). Offer to facilitate a class on the subject. Start a small group study that goes through a marriage book.

Let’s save some of the outrage and channel that energy into the effort required to make a real difference in our lives and for others. We may not see results tomorrow, but in the course of a lifetime, we will reap the harvest. And gain the greatest reward.

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

Revelation 22:12

What’s So Great About Men?

Honestly, I didn’t get to writing a post on Hot, Holy & Humorous post this week. BUT I did write one for our new site for husbands, KHS Ministry. Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife and I recently launched this site and even recorded a podcast episode that will be coming soon.

Here’s an excerpt of the KHS Ministry post:

Two women writing about sex to men. By this point in our ministries, we already know what some husbands will think: Women are always blaming men. Women don’t appreciate how men are built. Women don’t even like men all that much.

However, these two wives — J and Chris — actually think men are pretty awesome!

Moreover, lots of wives find men to be rather wonderful, especially their own particular guy. Though what women appreciate about men may be slightly different from what you might think.

So from a female frame of mind, let me share what we wives think is so great about men.

His Strength

Cliché, right? But there is truth to it — strength is attractive to women. Yet it may not be the kind of strength you’re thinking of, the hard-muscled, manly-man stuff. Strength isn’t appealing unless it’s paired with tenderness.

Want to read more? Click below!

Also be sure not to miss this limited time offer from our Sex Chat for Christian Wives Podcast!

Special only good through January 2020

When Doing the Right Thing Is Hard

I have about 20 draft posts right now, some with a bunch of words, some only a few, but none ready to publish. You might think I should go work on one of those and post about that. But something else has been weighing heavily on me this week. Integrity.

When I looked up the meaning of integrity, I most liked what Etymology Online says about the word’s origin:

“innocence, blamelessness; chastity, purity,” from Old French integrité or directly from Latin integritatem (nominative integritas) “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” figuratively “purity, correctness, blamelessness,” from integer “whole.”

https://www.etymonline.com/word/integrity

Integrity is about consistency and completeness of character. It’s a core principle I tried to teach my sons, explaining it to them as “doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”

Integrity Takes a Hit

The first half of 2019 was quite lovely and culminated with the marriage of my impressive son to a beautiful daughter-in-law, an event that was nearly perfect in every way. But then, as life does, there were quite a few disappointments in the second half of 2019 — instances in which people acted in ways that I didn’t expect.

From public politics to personal connections, I’ve witnessed rifts that make my chest ache. The details don’t matter, but suffice it to say that I could list a number of times when I’ve wondered about people’s integrity.

Why were people turning their back on principles they’d previously espoused as important? Did they ever believe what they’d proclaimed? Had they changed their minds? Lost their way?

Had I failed too? Did I need to guard better against losing my integrity?

Integrity in Marriage

How are we doing with integrity in our marriage? Are we consistent in doing what is right? What is loving? What we say we believe is important?

When no one is looking — or when at least your spouse isn’t looking — how do you treat your marriage and your sexuality?

Consider whether you could say any of the following:

  • “I know porn is wrong, but I still watch it in secret.”
  • “My spouse doesn’t know how much I masturbate on my own.”
  • “I believe that sex is important, but I haven’t made time for it.”
  • “I said I would initiate sex more, but I haven’t.”
  • “Given how I treat him/her, my spouse might not even say I’m much of a Christian.”
  • “I complain and/or blame my spouse on blogs and social media, knowing s/he won’t see it.”
  • “I had an affair, and my spouse doesn’t know.”
  • “I believe I should meet my spouse’s emotional needs, but I haven’t tried much.”
  • “I’ve been faking my orgasm.”
  • “I’ve lied to my spouse about ____________.”
Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

A long time ago, Spock and I had a bad marriage. During that time, I believed myself to be a good person, committed to fixing my marriage. But the way I behaved around him and out in the world were two different things.

On one hand, I touted my Christian faithfulness while treating my husband quite poorly at times. On the other hand, I spoke ill of my husband to others while not sharing my own contributions to our problems.

Once I got real and decided to put into practice what I claimed to believe, that’s when my marriage began to improve.

Once I got real and decided to put into practice what I claimed to believe, that's when my #marriage began to improve. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Doing the Right Thing Is Hard

It wasn’t easy changing my habits. It’s still not easy when I decide to ditch a bad habit and pick up a new one. Like right at this moment, I’m hungry because I had a salad for lunch instead of my usual sandwich, chips, and salsa — though my last cholesterol test tells me a salad is the right thing to do.

But a touch of a hunger is nothing compared to other personal pain we could invite by following through with integrity. We might encounter:

  • Relational conflict
  • Guilt or shame
  • Loss of respect from someone we care about
  • Criticism
  • Financial expense
  • Emotional discomfort
  • Reduced sexual intimacy

Some of those sacrifices may be temporary, and some may be long-term. We cannot always anticipate how our changes will impact others’ choices. And others have their own choices to make about integrity.

But we can control our own pursuit of integrity. Is it worth it?

God Calls Us to Integrity

  • “The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me” (Psalm 7:8).
  • “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever” (Psalm 41:12).
  • “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).
  • “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).
  • “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8).

Those are just a few of the verses that have the word integrity in them. There are more, and other scriptures highlight the principle of walking in integrity.

What does that look like? Well, what do you say you believe about marriage? About how one should treat others? Are you living up to that?

None of us will get this perfect. If we could, we wouldn’t need a savior! But we do need a savior, and we have one in Jesus Christ. What God calls us to is the ongoing pursuit of integrity — the commitment to do the right thing, even when no one’s looking, or when everyone’s looking and wanting something different, and when it’s just plain hard.

Where do you need to have greater integrity for your life, your marriage, and your sexual intimacy? Pursue that.

Flip the Switch from Initiation to Availability

Today’s post is aimed at higher drive spouses—wives and husbands—who feel frustrated by the gap in sexual interest.

If you’re the lower drive spouse, you may appreciate this post and want to share it with your higher drive mate. If you’re the higher drive spouse, but you’re not frustrated, you may still like this tip. And if you’re equally matched, my advice here will also serve you during the busy seasons of your lives.

This is not for sexless marriages, which have greater challenges. (See instead this post for a rundown of my series on sexless marriages.)

But assuming a higher drive spouse and a willing but less interested mate, let’s get on with it.

How Often Do You Initiate?

What percentage of sex initiation attempts in your marriage come from you?

That’s the question I recently asked of my higher drive wife community, but I also answered it for myself—80%.

Yep. In my marriage, I’d guess 4 out of 5 times someone suggests a sexual encounter, that someone is me. One to 3 of those 4 times, I get a favorable answer. One to 3 of those times, I get a pass. But most of Spock’s passes come with rain checks, so I certainly don’t feel deprived.

In fact, by happenstance, I made a discovery about initiating that has made the current libido gap between my husband and me much less distressing. I flipped the switch from initiation to availability.

Initiation and Hope Deferred

Initiation simply means getting something started. That can happen in all kinds of ways—some obvious, some less so. But at some point, there’s a word, a look, an action that indicates one spouse wants to make love.

The bid for sexual attention is made, and the other spouse must decide whether to match that bid and go for it.

As the higher drive spouse, you may already start from the perspective of not initiating every single time you’d like to have sex. Or you may go ahead and give it a shot each time, figuring you definitely won’t get a yes if you don’t even ask.

Regardless, if you’re frustrated about the frequency of sex in your marriage, you likely initiate, get turned down, and then feel hurt. Because somewhere between the ask and the no is hope — hope that this time, your beloved will say yes! And as the Bible so aptly tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

What if you could feel hope without being hurt when it doesn’t work out the way you want?

Availability and Desire Fulfilled

Hailing back to my 4 out of 5 times that I initiate sex in my marriage, 2 of those are straightforward initiation. I say what I want, he can say yes or “another time.”

But the other 2 times—half of the time, that is—I just make myself available. No strings, no expectations. Hope, yes. But without real initiation, I’m not caught up as much in the outcome. I haven’t really put out a bid.

It’s the difference, I suppose, between saying, “Hey, if you want to play a board game, I’m up for it,” and saying, “Let’s play a board game!” while you’re setting up game pieces on the kitchen table. If your potential partner says no, in which version have you invested more and will thus feel more hurt?

Intimacy Revealed Ad

“I’m Available” Statements

If you go this route, you can’t be ambiguous. You have to be explicit that you are available for sex from X time to Y time. But don’t wait around. If your spouse doesn’t jump on the notion right away, go busy yourself with other stuff. You’ve made it clear, they know the deal, and they can take you up on it or not.

What does that explicit statement look like? Here are a few ideas:

  • “I’m headed to bed. I’d love for you to come join me so we could have some intimate time before I fall asleep.”
  • “If you want, I can give you a massage. If that sounds good to you, take off your clothes and lie down.”
  • “Just so you know, I’m feeling particularly interested in sex tonight. If you’re up for it, let me know.”
  • As you’re headed out for work or elsewhere: “It’s been a while, so sex today would be great. Text me if you’re interested.”

In all of these cases, you’re making it clear what you want, but you’re not setting an expectation that it will happen.

Paradoxically, some lower drive spouses are more willing to say yes to an if you wanna invitation than a let’s do it suggestion. It’s a softer startup and feels less insistent.

That’s what’s actually happened in my own marriage. Perhaps it was that my tone and facial expression were less tense, which made the prospect of sex even more appealing to my husband. I’m not sure. I just know that since flipping this switch, I’ve felt less tense, more accepted, and happier with our sex life.

Have you tried availability instead of direct initiation. If so, how has that gone? If not, could flipping this switch help?

Also check out 40 Ways to Initiate Sex with Your Husband here on Hot, Holy & Humorous and and Why Doesn’t She Initiate? from our new blog for husbands, KHS Ministry!

Resolution Week: "And Now for Something Completely Different…"

To me, New Year = Fresh Start. Yes, I know it’s just a date on the calendar, but it feels like a new beginning is on the horizon.

You don’t need the New Year, though. Whenever you want, you can press the reset button and do things differently from how you did them before. That’s what I want to talk about today, on the last day of Resolution Week—just doing something different with the sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Why do something different?

Readers come to my blog for two main reasons: (1) to figure out how to address a problem with the sex in their marriage, or (2) to get ideas on how to maintain and nurture the sex in their marriage.

(There’s a third group, a very small one, who read to find out what “the other side” is saying and pipe up from time to time to debate. But let’s not worry about them.)

For those in either of the two main groups, you’ve been doing X, but doing Y could make things better. If you have sexual struggles, you can receive:

  • encouragement to pursue better sexual intimacy
  • insight about how your spouse might be thinking or feeling about the situation
  • summaries of medical, scientific, and common-sense approaches to resolving physiological obstacles
  • biblical perspectives on God’s design for sex in marriage
  • suggestions for meeting your spouse’s emotional and sexual needs, or getting your own met
  • how-to tips for making sex better for you and for your beloved

If you have healthy physical intimacy in your marriage, you can receive:

  • how-to tips for specific sexual activities
  • inspiration to have more frequent and/or more intimate sex
  • regular reminders to keep doing what makes your spouse feel loved
  • biblical insight about how your marital intimacy reflects God’s goodness
  • updates on sex research that can improve your pleasure or connection
  • ways to expand your sexual repertoire

But let’s face it: Hot, Holy & Humorous is about persuading you to do something even a little different from what you did before. If every reader remains in absolute stasis, what’s the point of me writing another word?

Yet, I do write. I do hear from readers. I do know this site, along with other marriage ministries, has a positive impact.

Is different automatically better?

In case you didn’t get the reference in this post’s title, “And now for something completely different” was a catchphrase from the British show Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It was inserted in between comedy sketches, some of which were really great and some of which were what were they thinking?

Likewise, just doing something different in or regarding your marriage bed could be a what were you thinking? moment. But it could also be really great.

How do you know your idea is different-great?

1. It aligns with God’s design for sex in marriage.

Whatever you do in the marriage bed should be God-approved, mutually acceptable, and spouse-honoring. It should align with God’s will.

2. It benefits both of you.

It should be something that not only serves your ends, but also meets your spouse’s longings. Marriage isn’t about you or me, but rather us. You don’t want one spouse thinking the new thing is great while the other responds, “What on earth were you thinking?”

3. It is pursued in love.

You can have wonderful intentions, but if your tactics stink, you won’t get far. Your spouse will likely, and understandably, become defensive. So the different thing you go after should be pursued in a loving way, without pressure or manipulation.

To Leap or to Toddle?

If I had a dollar for every time I or one of my podcast partners said the phrase “baby steps,” we’d be retreating on a Caribbean beach somewhere right now. Working, of course—wink, wink—but with our toes in the sand and the water lapping at our ankles.

Truth is, when one spouse wants to do something different, the other spouse can get worried. What do you mean “different”? Am I not enough? Are you going to want that weird thing again? I refuse to dress up as a gorilla no matter how turned on it might make you! ~snicker~

Now some of you should leap into something different. You’ve been in a pit for far too long, and you need to jump into a marriage class or counseling. Or perhaps you two are mutually on board with trying something sexual that’s a little “out there”—not outside God’s design, but pretty creative.

For most spouses, however, baby steps are the way to go.

Just do something a little extra or different next time, then expand a little from there, then to the next thing and the next thing… Until your baby steps have gotten you down the path a ways and you’re both happy with where you are.

Ad for Pillow Talk: 40 Conversations About Sex for Married Couples

Different Strokes for Different Folks

So what are some “different but great” ideas? Let me help!

Below are more than 20 suggestions. Each item is not for every couple. Find something that would benefit your particular marriage or brainstorm your own ideas.

Just choose something, or several somethings, different to do this year and see how it can improve your sexual intimacy. If it doesn’t work, you can always chuck it and try something else.

Note: Remember that when it’s something God specifically calls us to do, it may take a while to see the positive results. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV).